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Bicycle Industry Can’t Escape Economic Decline

0 1693 Sales & Trends

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The bicycle’s positive image to help solve environmental problems and traffic congestion made many people confident that the bike sector in Europe wouldn’t be hit hard by the economic crisis. Those days are over looking at production, sales and import statistics Bike Europe compiled for all EU 27 markets.
In 2012, the bicycle production across Europe dropped and shifted to the Eastern parts of the continent.
In 2012, the bicycle production across Europe dropped and shifted to the Eastern parts of the continent. - Photo: Bike Europe

The total market volume of bicycles sold in the EU-27 member states dropped, close to 1.3 million units to 18.6 million new bicycles delivered to all distribution channels. This is 6.5% down compared to the total for 2011.

The 18.6 million total includes about 700,000 electric bicycles sold in 2012. This number accounts for 380,000 sold in Germany; 171,000 in The Netherlands and includes an estimated total for all other EU countries. Relating this number to the total EU sales, it shows that e-bikes had a 3.8% market share in 2012.

Bicycle production

Bike production across Europe dropped and shifted in 2012. The shift to the Eastern parts of the continent was highlighted last year with the further move of Pantherwerke from Germany to Lithuania and the Czech Republic. The company follows in the footsteps of Prophete that closed its Gütersloh facility in mid-2011 and shifted production to Romania and India.

The drop in bicycle production stood at 4.2% last year, or close to 11.5 million units. However, when digging deeper in production as well as sales data, it becomes clear that the bike sector in Europe lacks reliable sources. In particular for Eastern European countries. That shows for instance in the 2011 – 2012 sales figure for Poland which in one year supposedly doubled, according to the Polish Bike Association.

Import

The European Union member states imported a total of 8,162,090 bicycles from countries outside Europe in 2012, according to data bureau Eurostat. This number is down 4.1% on the total for 2011. The average value per imported bike increased significantly however – a big 35.3% to € 132.30.

Is this an indication that the market is turning towards higher quality models? Or are the more expensive e-bikes included in the figures, despite the fact that their import is now tracked through a different CN Code that sets them apart from regular bicycles? It's anyone's guess and indicates once more that Europe's € 40 billion bike sector is in need of an improved sales tracking system.

An in-depth report with a breakdown of bicycle sales, production and imports statistics of each European country is published in the October issue of Bike Europe.

by Jack Oortwijn

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